My Oncology Clinic was at 2.30pm in The Royal Glamorgan Hospital. It was the longest day of my life. This would be the day when I found out if the radiotherapy had worked or not. Even though I had resigned myself to the terminal diagnosis I had received the previous August, I couldn’t help feeling that if it worked as well as the chemo; my tumours might have disappeared and would be miraculously cured. It’s very easy when facing one’s own mortality to cling to any vestige of hope, no matter how slim that may be.
I waited with baited breath when walking slowly to the room. My whole future lay on the first sentences my Oncologist would utter. ‘Well, the tumours appear to be stable’, he said. Those words crushed me completely. I knew that that was it. They’d done as much as they could and it appeared I’d reached the end of the line. To most people, those words might have sounded hopeful. The tumours hadn’t grown and were the same as they’d been post-chemo. Why was I feeling so down? Probably because I felt that those words drove the final nail in my coffin. I had always secretly clung on to the belief that there’d be a ‘cure’ for me down the line.
After a short time I felt a surge of relief at the thought of not undergoing any more radical treatment. I had been through so much that knowing there would be no more treatment at least gave me a more positive outlook on whatever life lay ahead. I could start making plans to do a few things without having to cancel them at the last minute. I had missed out on three holidays during the last four years and dreaded the thought of having to cancel another. The only mention of chemo at the meeting was on a Palliative Care basis. I was happy with that because the chances of me going through chemo again are virtually nil.
All this has left me with choices I need to make to ensure my quality of life is as good as possible. I’m under a Palliative Pain management clinic which has worked out quite well. My body is dosed up on Morphine all the time on a slow release basis, amongst other drugs to keep the pain at a tolerable level. It’s a fine line but at the moment it seems to be working.
I have received a long lasting steroid injection to help with my swallowing and will shortly be going in for a Gore-Tex Thyroplasty to help my breathy voice after my vocal cord was paralysed four years ago. This is ‘quality of life’ in my world. I wish I could say it’s a couple of glasses of wine and a good meal every night but eating and drinking have taken a back seat in all this. I enjoy talking and that is the most important thing for me to hang on to at the moment.
Now my blog posts are up to date with the present day, I hope to keep everyone updated on a weekly basis on all things in my life, good or bad. The last four years have been tough but I’ve done some amazing things, which I hope to share when I get round to it!
The day of the radiotherapy results arrived almost four years exactly to the day when we first heard the news Hywel had cancer. The doctors had seemed so excited by how well Hywel’s tumours responded to the chemo that we were both really hoping there’d be more of a reduction following the radiotherapy and that maybe, just maybe, the cancer had been blitzed completely. I was also terrified we might be told there’d the cancer had spread further. Neither of us managed to get much sleep in the days leading up to the results. The journey so far has been full of ups and downs so I always try to stay hopeful, trying to prepare for the worst and always hoping for the best. Unfortunately the scan showed that there was no further shrinkage in the tumours. They had stayed the same, so Hywel’s cancer was now classified as stable. This was a real blow as we had been hoping for more. Hywel didn’t want any additional radical treatment as the chemo had been so tough, so the only way forward was to have regular review clinics and a scan now and then to keep a check on things.
We tried to be positive about the fact the chemotherapy had finished in September and it was now the end of March, so there had been no growth for six months. We’d be able to go away to Perranporth with Elliott over the Easter holidays as planned, and Hywel’s consultant was happy for him to travel abroad so we would try to book a week away. Hywel was also given the OK to stop injecting himself with Clexane every day at this clinic.
We would be able to look forward to having a bit more ‘normality’ in our lives with no planned treatment and the next clinic three months away. We planned to spend some quality time together now that I was ‘retired’ and Hywel was starting to recover from the gruelling treatment regime.